Monday, December 22, 2008

Headlines - Monday

ABC's George Stephanopoulos' hair reports that aides to president-elect Obama have investigated Rahm Emanuel and exonerated him from any wrongdoing in the controversey surrounding Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Cheney admits he told Leahy to 'go f*ck himself' and says he's not sorry about it. He also says "whatever the president does during war is legal."

And behold, the first thing to come into Dick Cheney's mind when asked to name the highlight of the Bush Presidency:

WALLACE: Highest moment the last eight years?

CHENEY: Hmmm. Highest moment in the last eight years? Well, I think the most important, the most compelling, was 9/11 itself, and what that entailed, what we had to deal with. The way in which that changed the nation, and set the agenda for what we had to deal with as an administration.

Wallace nudged the vice president to add that 9/11 was also the low moment of the Bush years, but it tells you something about the darkness of Cheney's mind that this was the first thing to come to his mind when looking for bright spots over the past eight years was 9/11.

Bernie Madoff and his lovely wife Ruth:
TAKING THE FIFTH: The fraud by Bernie Madoff, here with wife Ruth, burned notable Fifth Avenue Synagogue members.
Frank Rich: Who Wants to Kick A Millionaire?
Random thought: how many of these shiesters are women?
"I've never seen anything like this before" said Phyllis Waters, president of the Professional Child Care Provider Network of Prince George's County. "You're seeing people just dropping out...They're taking them out of daycare and putting them into homes with grandmothers and neighbors and whoever else." from "Squeezed on All Sides, Parents Forgo Day Care" in today's Washington Post

Cheery reading. Before long it shouldn't require all that much creativity to find ways of measuring the pain caused by the economic meltdown and recession. For the time being, though, we have to settle for anecdotal evidence, like this report by Donna St. George.

The subhead, by the way, is "Education, Safety Sacrificed in Fiscal Crunch."
h/t Dick: It's Bush's fault.  
4,211 soldiers killed in Iraq; 629 in Afghanistan.
More on the mysterious, convenient solo-plane-crash death of "Karl Rove's IT guru" has to turn the soberest soul into a Konspiracy Kook
"I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist." - Teresa Nielsen Hayden
I'm thinking God rewarded Sarah Palin for her faith by stepping in and telling the police to withhold information about Sherry L. Johnston's arrest. So don't go blaming the police for not withholding information about Justin McIntyre--obviously, he doesn't have connections to good church-going folk.

Her arrest:

A 42-year-old Wasilla woman was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers with a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. Sherry L. Johnston was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance.


Troopers released no other information, including the kind or amount of drugs, because details could jeopardize an ongoing investigation, spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

His arrest:

Alaska State Troopers reported that police in Valdez made an arrest Saturday in a case involving the first Methcathinone lab discovered by law enforcement in Alaska.
Police discovered a small marijuana grow operation, various types of drug paraphernalia, and boxes containing chemicals and laboratory-grade glassware during a search Thursday of an apartment in downtown Valdez. They contacted the Mat-Su Narcotic Unit for assistance with the chemicals, which police called "suspicious," according to the troopers.

A second search Saturday involving the narcotics unit and city police turned up further evidence of a meth lab, troopers said.

Justin McIntyre, 18, the supposed tenant of the apartment, was arrested on charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance and theft. He was lodged at the Valdez Regional Jail and bail was set at $25,000.


Who's to blame for bad government?

Congressmen today actually spend most of their time soliciting bribes - oops, "campaign contributions" - for their next election run. One of my friends knows a congressman who complains he doesn't get to spend hardly any time back home nowdays talking to his constituents because he has to spend so much time rustling up the re-election cash or else risk a well-funded opponent taking up those bribes - oops, "campaign contributions" - and buying the office off of him.

Of course, this isn't the Congressman's fault. If we the people voted for the best man for the job, rather than for the guy who had the most campaign ads and spread the most money around for "get-out-the-vote" campaigns and etc., all the campaign spending in the world wouldn't matter. We'd research the candidates, check out their web sites (a very cheap source of both providing and receiving information), call their campaign office and find out their positions on the issues, etc., and we'd vote for the best man. But we the people don't do that. We vote for the guy with the most money for glitzy ads and the best content-free sound bites that sound good but when you look beneath are just empty nonsense, whether his or her initials are GWB, BHO, or DGBF. So we get the government we want -- and deserve. Then blame the politicians for the fact that, err, we voted for them. Sigh.

So now you know who is to blame for bad government. Just look in the mirror. Democracy. The theory that we the people know what we want, and deserve to get it good and hard. And if what we want is sparkle ponies and lies... well.


When do we start calling this what it is?

Guardian: "Israeli blockade 'forces Palestinians to search rubbish dumps for food"- UN fears irreversible damage is being done in Gaza as new statistics reveal the level of deprivation

Impoverished Palestinians on the Gaza Strip are being forced to scavenge for food on rubbish dumps to survive as Israel's economic blockade risks causing irreversible damage, according to international observers.

Figures released last week by the UN Relief and Works Agency reveal that the economic blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in July last year has had a devastating impact on the local population. Large numbers of Palestinians are unable to afford the high prices of food being smuggled through the Hamas-controlled tunnels to the Strip from Egypt and last week were confronted with the suspension of UN food and cash distribution as a result of the siege.


School officials in Celina, Texas have not only decided to violate federal law but they have decided to flaunt their refusal to comply with constitutional rulings of the Supreme Court. The school continues to incorporate Christian prayers into its games. In a recent game, Celina coach Butch Ford said: "Our goal (against Liberty Hill) was to play with the joy of the Lord in our heart so we'd play excited all of the time, and we wouldn't be down no matter what happened…." They might not be the only ones "excited all of the time" that they play.

What is fascinating is that school officials usually teach children that they must comply with the law. Yet, here the officials are telling students that it does not matter if the Constitution and the federal courts prohibit conduct: religious beliefs trump federal law.

Story here.

The folks in Celina have watched their self-proclaimed Christian President order subordinates to ignore lawful subpeonas, and they've seen hundreds of signing statements which allow the administration to simply ignore the very legislation he's signing. We've all seen the President admit in public that he defiantly ignored FISA. The Vice-President has recently admitted ignoring US laws on torture and outing Valerie Plame. Who can blame them for believing that if they're Christians they can do as they please? In their minds, their big book trumps that measly old piece of parchment called the Constitution every day. Hey, it's worked for the White House.


Ever since I heard that supporters of Proposition 8 had filed suit to invalidate all the gay marriages that have taken place in California, I've been trying to wrap my mind around the fact that someone, somewhere had to actually initiate this process. That means that someone, somewhere must have decided that the best use of his or her time was not to perform some act of kindness or generosity, not to stand up for justice or to comfort the afflicted, not even to try to turn a profit, but to decide to get together a lawsuit in order to break thousands of people's marriages apart. That person could have gone to the beach, or worked a stint at a food kitchen, or taken up hang-gliding, or done any number of things, but instead he or she thought: why not do my best to tear thousands of people's lives apart, people who are not bothering them, people who only want to be married and have anniversaries and argue about who has to take out the trash, like anyone else.

It's a pretty strange way to choose to spend your time, if you ask me.

The LA Times has a profile of a couple who worked to get Proposition 8 passed, and are still working for the legal challenge to California's existing gay marriages. They're motivated by 'deteriorating morals.'

And they didn't just call their friends and put up signs for Proposition 8: for 40 days they gave up coffee and didn't eat for 12 hours a day. And Robbie gave up "Days of Our Lives," the soap opera she had been watching since high school."

Mr. Ferreira has just been laid off. All three kids are still at home, which probably means they're struggling too. The couple lives in a gated community. They are frightened by what lurks outside. I can see that. What I can't see is forgetting about compassion and charity, or neglecting such Biblical injunctions as not to cast the first stone unless one is without sin, and to worry about the beam in one's own eye before turning one's attention to the mote in another's.

If we worry about our morals deteriorating, surely the best place to start addressing that problem is in our own lives. We all have more than enough sins to occupy us. When we have extirpated them all, and learned courage, justice, generosity, and mercy, there will be time enough to worry about other people's marriages. And I suspect that once we have learned those things, we will not find the fact that some couple in love wants to get married at the top of our list of concerns.


So much for the promise of 401(k)s replacing pensions due to the magic of the company match.

What they didn't tell you was that the company can decide to rescind the match at any time. 
Fun fact: The literal moneyed class still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips. 
The FBI has had to shift agents from terror and other crime work to Wall Street investigations including the alleged Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme and mortgage fraud.

Just think how much money and effort it would have saved if the Bush administration had only enforced the rules that were already in place!

Bush doesn't give a crap about the economy, only his legacy. Otherwise, how do you explain this comment:
President George W. Bush suddenly saw that he could very well be the 21st century's Herbert Hoover. So after analyzing the imperiled economy earlier this year, he said, he "decided I didn't want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression . . . so we moved and moved hard."
It doesn't matter to Bush that Detroit is teetering on the edge. It doesn't matter to Bush that unemployment is creeping into double-digits. It doesn't matter to Bush that millions of homeowners are being kicked out of their homes. The only thing that matters to Bush that he not be remembered in the same vein as Herbert Hoover.

Too late, Chimpy.
On George Stephanopolous' hair, Joe Biden said he was 'not ruling out' prosecutions of the Bushies for torture, but that he and Obama are interested in moving forward, not backward.
Arnold "I have a $40 billion dollar budget shortfall" Schwarzenegger tells "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley that he would "absolutely" like to be U.S. president if the Constitution could be changed to allow foreign-born Americans to run for the White House.
The White House accuses the NYT of "gross negligence" for their article on the front page of Sunday's New York Times that says President Bush and his style and philosophy of governing played a direct role in the mortgage meltdown that's crippling the nation's economy.
Bush may be right. He is an expert when it comes to gross negligence.
Here's your daily dose of fundie christian hypocrisy exposed:

Why does everyone keep telling me this Rick Warren things is much ado about nothing? 

I'm tired of these self-appointed mouthpieces for god telling me I don't have morals because I don't believe. I'm tired of the gullibility of their flocks, believing everything that comes from the pulpit without question, for years voting against their (and our) best interests; throwing their support to anyone who says the right things to them.

This is a group of people who have been played for fools since Reagan ran for President and I'm supposed to take them seriously? This is a group of people for whom the name hypocrite fits so well. We have to sit and listen to their sanctimony and lecturing about the 'sanctity of marriage' and the 'culture of life' and 'heartland values' to the point of retching, yet the 'bible belt' has the highest divorce rate, the highest rate of teen pregnancy, and the lowest standard of education in the country? Horseshit. None of them have anything to say that a thinking American should listen to.

These are people who link distribution of AIDS medicines in Africa to belief, or at the least, acceptance of their 'principles'. It's easy to find converts at the end of the proverbial 'barrel of a gun'. When you refuse to provide education and appropriate birth control (condoms), when you turn a life and death situation into an opportunity to proselytize, it is you who have lost touch with 'moral values'.

When you marginalize an entire segment of the population, when you deride other religious groups for not believing as you do, and when you withhold information and prophylactics that can save a large number of lives, you have no regard for the 'culture of life'. When you care more for a group of cells forming inside a woman's body than you do actual living, breathing human beings, when you encourage people to deny health care on religious grounds, and when you applaud the efforts of terrorists who would kill those who provide that health care, you do not have anything resembling values.

Rick Warren represents these people.

So tell me again, Mr. Obama, why we should even admit these people are alive, let alone give them a position of stature at an event they've done their best to make sure would never happen?

I'm more than willing to give Barry the benefit of the doubt when it comes to cabinet appointments. Most of them look level-headed, qualified, and professional, but allowing Rick Warren this national stage is nothing less than an outrage.

Mr. Obama, everyone makes mistakes - I've made more than I want to count - but the true measure of a leader is to admit them and learn from them. It's time for you to admit you made a big one 'palling' up to Rick Warren. It's time to disinvite him and bring on someone more appropriate.

Rick Warren has nothing to do with change, Mr. Obama. All he, and the rest of his slimy brethren, wants is to maintain the status quo (or slide backwards) and, naturally, the political power they've accrued over the past 30 years. With Rick Warren giving the invocation at your inaugural, Mr. President-elect, you're helping them do just that.


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